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Knoxville entrepreneurship efforts to reach new heights with “Innov865 Week”

Innova865 LogoBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

After several years of great success with “Start-up Day Knoxville,” the organizing group is taking the annual celebration to a new level – expanding to a series of events at various venues over several days and becoming a stop on Paul Singh’s “North American Tech Tour.”

Preliminary plans for “Innov865 Week,” set for September 19-23, were announced yesterday during the “Tennessee Venture Challenge” (TVC) hosted by the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF).

Programming will kick-off with the Kauffman Foundation’s “Mayors Summit on Entrepreneurship” September 19 and end with the signature “Start-up Day” celebration September 22. Educational panels, pitch competitions, investor roundtables and social events will be offered throughout the week.

Adding to the sizzle and excitement of “Innov865 Week” will be Singh’s participation. The well-known entrepreneur, former partner in 500 Startups, and venture capitalist launched his “North American Tech Tour” that has “63 events (or stops) and counting” earlier this year.

“In 2016, I’m driving across North America to visit the places that start-ups actually start (and grow) their businesses,” Singh writes. “At each stop, I’ve created a week-long series of events for entrepreneurs and investors. Over the past 5 years, I’ve flown 500,000 miles, raised tens of millions of dollars for my venture funds and invested in hundreds of companies around the world. I know start-ups and small businesses better than anyone else. And they know me. Along the way, I’ll mentor thousands of entrepreneurs, visit incubators and co-working spaces, hold investor dinners and dive into the local (tech) culture. I’m doing it all with a pickup truck and a custom-built Airstream travel trailer.”

Other cities Singh has or will visit include Baltimore, Columbus, Durham, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Lincoln, Omaha, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, St. Louis, Tallahassee, Tulsa and Washington as well as multi-city stops in Montana, New Mexico, and Upstate New York.

The selection of the TVC event to announce the week-long celebration and a new brand named the Innov865 Alliance underscore the reality that entrepreneurship occurs daily in the 865 area code and involves a number of supporters.

The Innov865 Alliance brand represents a commitment to year-round collaboration to develop, support and promote the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. “Innov865 Week” will serve as the signature showcase, but the Alliance will coordinate efforts throughout the year that celebrate entrepreneurship, showcase Knoxville as a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses, and increase access to capital.

All of the organizations that have sponsored “Start-up Day Knoxville” are part of the Alliance. They include UTRF; Oak Ridge National Lab; PYA, sponsor of teknovation.biz; UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation; Launch Tennessee; and Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

More important, however, is the expansion of the Alliance to involve a growing list of entrepreneurial firms. Companies interested in helping are encouraged to contact an Alliance member.

For more information, go to www.innov865.com.


Tom Ballard

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer,
Pershing Yoakley & Associates. P.C.

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